Department of Public Health, East Carolina University, Brody School of Medicine, Greenville, NC 27834, USA.
There is an increase in literature suggesting exercise can promote positive changes in physical self-perceptions that can manifest as an increase in global self-esteem. In the present study, we assessed self-esteem using the hierarchical framework of the Exercise and Self-Esteem Model (EXSEM) along with cognitive facets at the subdomain level (e.g., competence, certainty, importance, and ideal self-discrepancy). This allowed for an analysis of cognitive facets as possible contributors to changes in physical self-perceptions. We addressed these aims with a sample of 120 college-age adults who completed a 12-week resistance exercise program. Results indicated significant improvements in self-perception constructs at all levels of the EXSEM. The hierarchical structure of the EXSEM was partially supported, as we observed successively smaller improvements at each level of the model (e.g., self-esteem showed lesser improvements than physical self-worth). In addition, a path model developed to explain the impact of strength changes on self-esteem proved a good fit for the data. Results are discussed in terms of contemporary models of self-perception, potential mediators of exercise on self-esteem, and the need to consider cognitive facets of self-perception.
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